In case you missed it, I decided to return to the #52FilmsByWomen pledge. Last week, I posted the first half of films by women I watched in August. It turns out I watched so many last month, I had no choice but to split it into two posts.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Black Rock (Katie Aselton, 2002)
Given the time of the year, I’ve been trying to make a point of watching more horror films by women. Black Rock is nothing we haven’t already seen before in terms of plot; a weekend getaway turns into a fight for survival. However, this film is way more engaging than some of the others that explore this narrative. Proof more women should direct horror and thriller movies.
Waitress (Adrienne Shelly, 2007)
This is another film that’s been on my watch list for ages and I can’t believe I didn’t watch it sooner! The film follows a young woman stuck in an abusive marriage. She falls pregnant and her only outlet is creatively naming pies she makes at her day job (‘Mermaid Marshmallow pie’, ‘I Hate My Husband pie’ are just two examples). She finds herself in an unexpected relationship with a newcomer, which appears to be her last shot at happiness. The ending was not what I expected at all, this is a wonderfully wholesome and feminist film. It’s a shame Adrienne Shelly isn’t around to make more, much-needed, films like this.
Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)
I watched this late one night whilst I was menstruating and I cried multiple times. I’m not even that into superhero movies or action films, so I think this says a lot. I get more emotional about women when I bleed and this is a film I really wish I saw in the cinema. It’s just so powerful! It’s not perfect by any means and there are some things I didn’t like about the movie. However, it shows tremendous progress and proves Hollywood desperately needs more women directing big blockbuster movies (and more movies in general, let’s be honest).
There is not one single shot in this movie that caters to the male gaze, this is a big problem I have with superhero/action movies. The most refreshing part of this entire movie is a really small detail that can be easily missed. When Diana jumps back onto land, her thigh jiggles. There’s no way a male director would have included such a significant detail.
Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003)
*** cw – rape ***
After enjoying Wonder Woman so much, I decided to check out another Patty Jenkins film. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed. Monster is a biographical crime drama film about Aileen Wuornos who was dubbed ‘America’s first female serial killer’. It’s a good story to explore, but I didn’t like how the film flowed. It was slow; I found it very hard to watch, but perhaps this was the point.
One thing I will say though, the rape scene in this film is a good example of the way such scenes should be handled. It’s presented in a way that doesn’t make it ‘sexy’ for men. This may sound weird, but a lot of filmmakers still sexualise women even during rape scenes. This scene is genuinely awful and painful to watch (so please bare this in mind if you’re triggered by this kind of content). I don’t want to ‘praise’ a rape scene of course, but I just thought this was worth mentioning. It’s clear to me that Patty Jenkins is a very talented filmmaker and Charlize Theron definitely deserved an Oscar for this performance.
Palo Alto (Gia Coppola, 2013)
Like I mentioned in part one, I’ve started watching more films that just explore characters or random stories as opposed to clear narratives. I used to really need structure in films I watch, but I guess I’m more open minded now or my tastes have changed. Palo Alto is a film that follows teenagers and weaves together different stories (all based on James Franco’s short story collection of the same name). Boredom, lust and self-destruction are all running themes in these stories and it’s a different kind of coming-of-age movie. It’s clear to see that filmmaking and talent obviously runs in this family. I’d go as far as saying that Gia Coppola could be the most talented Coppola yet.
Adore (Anne Fontaine, 2013)
I watched this because I needed more Robin Wright action on my screen after Wonder Woman. Adore follows childhood friends who fall for each other’s sons. It’s bizarre, inappropriate and just gets more intense as it goes on. I definitely did not expect to enjoy this film as much as I did. It made me want to watch more films with Xavier Samuel as well (The Loved Ones is so good!).
Pet Sematary (Mary Lambert, 1989)
This is a Steven King adaption that my boyfriend raved about and I was not disappointed. This film has everything; an evil cat, a wise old neighbour, punch-ups at a funeral, heartbreak, macabre and more! I can’t wait to watch the sequels.
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
This is an extremely well made movie; the narrative jumps all over the place and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. I don’t know what else to say about this film. No words, only nightmares.
The ABCs of Death, Segment: E is for Exterminate (Angela Bettis, 2012)
These anthologies are definitely not for the squeamish, they’re some of the most goriest shorts I’ve ever seen. What I like about them is how they tackle what could be considered taboo subjects. The majority of them are pretty cleverly done even if some are super disturbing. Some of them are just plain bizarre too. They range anywhere from 3 minutes to 6, which isn’t a very long time to explore the word they’re given. E is for Exterminate is one of the more simple ones. A man attempts to kill a spider, but keeps missing, getting bitten several times in the process. You’ll have to watch it to see how it ends.
★★★★½ for this particular film
The Velvet Vampire (Stephanie Rothman, 1971)
We found this little gem of a film via Shudder, but I’m pretty sure the full movie is on YouTube as well. Fans of The Love Witch should watch this film as it’s undeniably an influence. The soundtrack to this film is incredible and it follows a bisexual vampire, what more could you want?
Almost Adults (Sarah Rotella, 2016)
There’s a ton of films by women floating around on Netflix, however this isn’t one worth watching. The film follows two best friends going through very different stages in their life and growing apart. All of the characters are insufferable and the dialogue tries too hard to be funny. There’s also this weird subplot involving Tumblr, it’s a no from me.
Adore and Almost Adults are both on Netflix. I watched The ABCs of Death and The Velvet Vampire on Shudder.
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